The travel industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, with sales cratering last year and staying depressed in early 2021. But there are signs of a head-turning rebound on the way as the COVID-19 threat fades in the U.S. over the next few quarters.

With that prospect in mind, let's look at a couple of attractive stocks that should capitalize on a vacation spending boom in 2021 and beyond. Read on to see why TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP) and Winnebago Industries (NYSE:WGO) deserve a spot on your watch list today.

An RV parked near a lake with mountains on the opposite shore.

Image source: Getty Images.

TripAdvisor sees a powerful rebound ahead

TripAdvisor's fiscal first-quarter earnings results weren't impressive. Sales dived 56% through March, the travel booking specialist said in early May. Net losses expanded year over year, too, due to continued mobility restrictions across much of Europe.

But there's an end in sight.

The company noted sharp improvements in booking trends in the U.S. market as the quarter progressed. Website traffic hit 80% of pre-COVID levels in March as people began traveling more. That implies a robust summer season ahead for hotel bookings and for TripAdvisor's more lucrative experience-booking platform.

The global rebound that follows might be even stronger, if you believe the management team. "A more powerful leisure travel recovery can take shape when vaccinations become more widespread internationally," executives told investors in May. Look for TripAdvisor's sales to quickly start setting new records in that case, perhaps starting as early as the second quarter. If you were waiting for a good opportunity to own this stock, this could be it.  

Winnebago is flexible

Winnebago's business quickly returned to growth after an initial pullback in early 2020 forced a pause in its production of recreational vehicles (RVs). But there are no signs of a slowdown ahead.

Consumers redirected spending toward its RVs when international travel became impossible. Those trends continued into early 2021, with revenue, earnings, and order backlog all spiking through early March.

Winnebago today boasts a far stronger portfolio than it did just two years ago. It dominates niches ranging from towables to motorhomes, with leading brands including Newmar, Grand Designs, and the core Winnebago franchise. The company gained market share across this portfolio last year, too, even as prices rose, thanks to robust demand at dealerships around the country.

Winnebago's stock dipped in May as investors questioned the strength of the predicted reopening boom on the way for 2021 and beyond. Sure, the RV giant is sensitive to a few volatile trends, including discretionary spending and fuel prices. But Winnebago has been winning more than its fair share of attractive niches like boats and towable RVs. That success should generate strong returns for shareholders, regardless of the timing of any reopening rebound. 

While both of these stocks have outpaced the market so far in 2021, shares have dropped from the recent highs set in March. That shift should make them more enticing for value-conscious investors seeking exposure to the travel industry ahead of a gathering rebound this summer.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.